“Sir, what were you thinking? The World Trade Center site is the most sensitive place in the American heart, and you must have known that visiting there would be insulting to many, many Americans,” Pelley [asked].
“Why should it be insulting?” Ahmadinejad [replied].
Interview with 60 Minutes
Many innocent people were killed there. Some of those people were American citizens obviously. We obviously are very much against any terrorist action and any killing. And also we are very much against any plots to sow the seeds of discord among nations.
Ahmadinejad later in the Interview
Pity poor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, puzzled President of Iran. He’s awfully confused about what all the fuss is about. All he wanted to do is visit Ground Zero in New York City, pay his respects to the victims of the 9/11 attack, and, just possibly, make some sort of statement about how bad terrorism is and how tragic 9/11 was. Of course, just whom he believes is responsible for 9/11 might be a question, given his penchant for odd revisionist theories about other historical events. But charity compels us to accept that he really isn’t sure why his presence there should be so disturbing. In fact, he’s sure it’s all just a misunderstanding.
And, doubtless, there could be some misunderstandings, so let’s take a moment and clear them up. Here’s a list of things Iran isn’t responsible for:
- 9/11 – that was al Qaeda, a fanatic Sunni Muslim group not Iran, a fanatic Shia Muslim country
- al Qaeda – that was Pakistan’s creation, in part with American funds sent to help fight the Soviets not Iran’s, which supported different vicious fanatics with other funds
- Saddam Hussein – really, Iran did its best to get rid of this jerk in the 1980s, and sadly their best just wasn’t good enough
- the Gulf War – Iran sat this one out, happy to see the Sunni nations beat themselves up, and even got a few fine Iraqi planes out of it
So, if anybody is mad at Mahmoud for this stuff, you should drop it, because it’s not really his fault.
On the other hand, there are a few small things that Iran is responsible for, and I’m thinking these might just have some bearing on why we just don’t like poor Mahmoud. These minor things include:
- sacking the US Embassy and kidnapping a bunch of Americans in 1979 (not only is Iran guilty of this, but in fact Mahmoud may be personally involved, as a leader of the student group responsible)
- blowing up the US Embassy and the US Marine barracks in Beruit, and the US Embassy in Kuwait in 1983 (via its wholly-owed subsidiary Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Al Dawa, an Iranian funded group opposing Saddam in Iraq, in Kuwait)
- hijacking airliners in 1984-1985 (via Hezbollah again)
- bombing a pro-Israel group in Buenos Aires
- providing safe haven/transit for al Qaeda members all the way up to the 9/11 attacks
- allowing senior al Qaeda and Taliban types free passage out of Afghanistan in 2002
- possibly allowing al Qaeda leaders to operate from “arrest” within Iran in 2002-2007
- giving support for the vicious (and now defunct) Islamist regime in Somalia
- giving support to Muqtada al Sadr and other anti-US factions in Iraq (and receiving support in turn)
So, quite a legacy of support for terror and violence, frequently against American interests or allies. (I guess that’s why they’ve been on the State Department’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism every year since 1984.) But all of this is dwarfed, of course, by the piece de resistance:
Since these insurgents are, after all, killing and maiming American soldiers (not to mention droves of Iraqi civilians), well, Mahmoud, you can pardon our suspicion that your tears for the victims of 9/11 are not exactly heartfelt. Especially when we recall your governments various working agreements with al Qaeda in years past. Call us sensitive, but we feel that if you’re actively trying to kill our soldiers, maybe you don’t have our best interests at heart. Let’s face it, there’s a term for countries like yours, and that term is: enemy nation.
And let us not forget Iran’s ongoing quest to develop the biggest bomb of all. That also makes us just a tad bit nervous, and makes us worry a bit that perhaps your stop by New York is for more than just sightseeing. A little pre-target recon, perhaps? Surely not, but you can see why we might be a little nervous, Mahmoud. Perhaps you and the nation you lead might consider actually acting like you want peace and stability instead of sowing chaos and terror in your neighbors and region.
And maybe, one day, you might consider apologizing for sacking our embassy, kidnapping its staff, blowing up a bunch of our other embassies, sponsoring hijacking and murder around the world, and taking an active interest in killing our soldiers in Iraq. In other words, before you start tooling around our cities, you might want to take some action to move your country out of its well-deserved doghouse.